Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Research is a big part of writing a story, and our focus this week.
Watch for stories from authors Lise Horton, 
Ursula Renée and Anna DePalo.

Michael opened the folder containing all the information Desiree had gathered on Angelo. On top were notes she made, summarizing his movements the previous Wednesday afternoon – starting with him swiping his Metrocard at the 86th Street Station, the delay on the G line, and his exit at the East Broadway Station 45 minutes later. Underneath documents that supported Angelo’s statement.
He was more than impressed. Desiree had been thorough in her research and after reviewing the information, there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind regarding his nephew’s innocence.

Unfortunately, unless the novel took place in an alternate universe, Desiree’s notes would have an NYPD detective questioning Angelo’s innocence. Anyone familiar with the New York City subway system knows that the G train does not travel into Manhattan and delays on that line would not normally affect someone traveling from the Upper East Side down to the Lower East Side.

Though romance authors write fiction, they should strive to create believable universes. An error can pull a reader out of the story, and in some cases, make her abandon the book. These errors can include, but are not limited to, incorrect placement of landmarks, usage of language, and including fashion and tools that were not invented during the time period in which the story takes place.

Research is the key to creating a believable universe that holds a reader’s attention. How much research is needed depends on the subgenre, how much detail the author plans to include and the author’s level of expertise. When writing a romantic thriller, an officer of the law, or even a lawyer, would have a better understanding of arrest procedures than a person whose only experience with police is what she sees on television dramas.

How authors gather information varies. It is no longer necessary to spend hours in a library, pouring over books to verify facts. The Internet has websites devoted to topics of interests. Authors can also interview experts in the field, visit museums or take classes to get hands-on experience with a skill that a character may have. And, if it is in the author’s budget, she could travel to the location in which the story is set.

In upcoming articles, Getting Your Facts Straight will review resources authors can use or places of interests that will help create believable universes.♥

Ursula Renée writes historical romances set between World War I and 1960’s. When she is not writing, she enjoys drawing, photography and stone carving. Visit her at www.ursularenee.com.


Hit Me With Your Best Research Shot by Anna DePalo


  1. Well said, Ursula. That was exactly my experience with a book that stated the hero could see the Statue of Libery and the George Washington Bridge from his office building! The story lost credibility with me and I put the book down, never to be picked up again. I do a ton of research on my stories because I believe accuracy is important, even in fiction.

    1. I also do a ton of research. I want to make sure readers do not toss by books to the side.

  2. I remember, many, many years ago, one of my editors (I think it was at Harlequin) used to post the most outrageous research bloopers on her door, from the manuscripts she had received. My favorite was from a Medieval book where, after a rousing hunt, the hunters sat down to a "lovely tea."

    1. I'd like to read some of the bloppers.

  3. Sorry---last entry was from Sylvia. Didn't realize that it would be published under my Google "name".